PESHAWAR, Nov 13: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday expressed annoyance over the frequent postings and transfers of civil servants in the province and directed the government not to transfer any of its officials unless a justifiable need arose.

Adjourning hearing of contempt of court petitions to Dec 12, Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser issued the order: “Till next date of hearing, postings and transfers by the provincial government are brought to a halt unless strong and cogent reasons shown and when government is left with no option but to transfer an officer.”

They also put on notice the provincial secretary of the establishment department for explanation on why he was obeying such orders not authorised by the law and norms related to posting and transfer of civil servants.

The petitions were filed by four officials of the elementary and secondary education department requesting the court to initiate proceedings against the secretary of the department for being reluctant to implement an earlier order of the court.

The bench observed that it appeared that the respondent (education secretary) had been trying to frustrate the court’s order. It ruled that it was of tentative view that he had committed contempt of court and was liable to be prosecuted.

The bench issued show cause notice to the secretary directing him to file a written reply. It said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general would act as a prosecutor in the proceedings against the secretary.

Section officer (litigation) of the department Hidayatullah appeared before the court but could not satisfy the judges why they had not been implementing the order.

However, when he came out of the courtroom, he and other officials of the department began using abusive language against journalists and the chief justice for what they called as undue interference in their affairs. Police officials present on duty pacified them and asked them to leave.

The contempt petitions are filed by the officials, including Abdul Malik, Ziauddin, Gohar Ali and Nazeer Khan.

One of them, Gohar Ali, has also filed a writ petition for implementation of the earlier order of the court. These petitioners were serving against posts of executive district officers and were transferred from management cadre to the teaching cadre in 2011.

They had challenged that order saying the provincial government had made a policy for bifurcation of the two cadres and as they belonged to management cadre, they could not be transferred to the other one.

A few months ago, the high court had accepted their respective petitions as the additional advocate general had stated on behalf of the government that they would be readjusted soon in the management cadre.

However, the petitioners claim that contrary to the commitment, secretary Mushtaq Jadoon had been dragging his feet on the issue.

The bench observed that on a daily basis, posting and transfer of civil servants made on a large scale without showing reason that it was under compelling circumstances. It also observed that the situation was prejudicial to good conduct and performance of civil servants and likely to damage civil service on a large scale.

The bench directed the additional advocate general Zahid Yousaf to convey its displeasure to the provincial government.

The AAG said the government had already abandoned that policy of the frequent transfers and postings and that an official of one of the cadres could be transferred to the other.

However, the bench observed that the court had passed the said order with consent of the provincial government and it had to be implemented.

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